Oxygen and Combustion
I hope you can settle an argument. My friend claims that
oxygen is combustable and I say it is not but has to be present for a
fuel to burn. No fuel, no fire. Who's correct?
You win. Technically, combustion (burning) occurs when a substance reacts with
oxygen to produce combustion (oxidation) products. Since oxygen atoms cannot
react with themselves to produce anything except oxygen molecues or ozone
molecules, oxygen does not burn. The nature of the reaction when oxygen forms
ozone is different from the electron transfer which occurs in traditional
oxidation. Therefore it would be splitting a hair to say that because oxygen
atoms can form ozone molecules, oxygen has been oxidized (burned). Thus, I
your side -- oxygen does not burn. It merely supports combustion.
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Update: June 2012